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First Draft is Complete!

After years of planning (and stalling after the first chapter), months of furious writing and rewriting, I have officially written the entire first draft of Hidden, the second full-length novel in the Circle series. Having reached this point is a huge accomplishment for me because a) it took so long, b) this novel is really fun but at the same time darker than the first and b) all of these stories have been cluttering up my head for a decade and a half now and I *need* to get them out.

Nevertheless, much editing remains in my future after I take a few weeks hiatus. I always take a break in between the draft and editing phase, and then again between subsequent edits. Whenever I try to edit right away, I have found that I am still too close to the story. I see not what I actually said, but what I meant to say. Thus, it is harder to find holes and inconsistencies and typos. Taking a break helps me regain a bit of distance and objectivity.

I plan to do one full round of edits and rewrites before I send the second draft out for beta reading (my fearless beta readers, you know who you are, and please remember that true friendship requires honesty, and I fully expect you to rip this story inside out--that's the only way it'll get better! Dishonest feedback does no one any good). If I haven't already asked you about being a beta reader, let me know if you'd like to be on the list. The one caveat of getting to read my manuscript before publication: You have to PROMISE me you'll actually provide feedback! Last time I had nearly twenty people request to be my beta readers, and I only received comments back from three of them despite numerous efforts on my part to remind them to please tell me what they thought, what they liked, what could be better. Thus, I'm going to be a lot more judicious in who can be a beta reader this time.

Once my beta readers have had a chance to tear it apart, I'll then begin the lengthy process of sewing the narrative back together. I actually enjoy this phase of the writing process, because throughout the rewrites you have this awareness that with each word, each sentence, each paragraph you refashion, the story is getting better. Reworking clunky sections. Filling in plot holes (but not too many! Gotta leave some things to the imagination). Cutting extraneous dialogue and unnecessary exposition. Each rewrite brings the novel that much closer to perfection, not that any work is truly perfect, but we can all hope to approach it.

I love that feeling, I really do.

And finally, several months in the vague future when I have finished all of the rewrites and beta reading and second round of rewrites, will come the final round of copy-edits to catch any typos. This is my least favorite part. The boring part. The grueling work part. However, it is arguably the most important part after coming up with the story itself...if a novel is filled with errors, no one will read past the first chapter, and sometimes not even the first page. Catching these little buggers is a nightmare, but it is a necessary evil.

So what can you expect as far as updates go during my writing hiatus? Probably a lot of art, and possibly some plans for the third book: Vanished. I have a rough outline for that already, because I am a Virgo and accordingly have the entire series already outlined, but that is as far as I have gone with it. Thus, I hope you are looking forward to a drawing and painting and bejeweling spree in the mean time.

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